God the Creator (Elohim)

Genesis 1:1

January 16, 2005 | Brian Bill

Because I have three first names, people often don’t know what to call me.  I can see the hesitation on their faces.  Is his name Brian or is it Bill?  My middle name is John so I like to say when you use my full name three guys come running!  I’ve gone by many names in my life…

  • Ibam – This is what one of my little sisters called me when she couldn’t pronounce my name.  Unfortunately, all my sisters still call me this today…
  • Brian John Bill – This was my mom’s favorite name for me when I did something to make one of my sisters cry.
  • Buckshot – I loved it when my dad would call me this name, particularly after I shot my first buck when I was 12.
  • Billsy – This is what I was known by in high school.
  • Billsky – This is what people would call me when I would do something dumb.
  • Mr. Bill – When people use this name, they inevitably follow it up with “Oh, no!”
  • Cheesehead – When individuals call me this, they’re really wishing that they too could be from the other side of the Cheddar Curtain.
  • Pastor Brian – This name reminds me that I am a shepherd of God’s flock.
  • Reverend – My girls like to call me this when I share a sermon idea with them.  It’s not usually used as a compliment, “Thanks for sharing that, Reverend.”
  • Bri – I love it when Beth calls me this.
  • Daddy – This name is reserved for my four daughters and when they use it, I melt.

I’ve been called other names that I can’t repeat here, and I’m sure I’ve been given some monikers behind my back as well.  While I can’t always control how people refer to me, I do love it when someone asks, “What do you want to be called?”  Most of the time, I just give my first name: “Feel free to call me Brian.”  

In an even greater way, God has given us some names to use when we refer to Him.  Last week we learned that God loves it when we call on His name.  And today we’re going to look at His very first name as found in the very first verse in the very first book of the Bible.  It’s the name “Elohim.”   Turn with me to Genesis 1 and follow along as I read the opening verses.  I’ll insert this Hebrew name as I read:  “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of Elohim was hovering over the waters.  And Elohim said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.  Elohim saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  Elohim called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’”  

This first name for God is used more than 2,500 times in the Bible, 32 times in the first chapter of Genesis alone.  Most scholars believe Elohim derives from the word El, which in turn comes from the word for “strong.”  Specifically, this name means that He is the strong Creator God.  When we pray to Elohim we remember that He is the One who is creatively powerful, completely sovereign, and gloriously great.

Four Forceful Facts

The Book of Genesis gets its name from the Hebrew – It’s the book of “beginnings.”  This book is also a battleground today because many in our culture reject its clear teachings.  We don’t have time this morning to dig into its depths but suffice it say that you have a choice.  You can either believe what the Bible teaches, and swim against the current of our culture; or you can follow the crowds, and be at odds with Elohim.  Because God calls Himself Elohim, there are at least four foundational facts about this name that will fortify our faith.  

1. Elohim is Eternal (Genesis 1:1a).  

Some men were trying to answer the question, “Where did the earth come from?”  After compiling their data and feeding it into a sophisticated supercomputer, they pushed the answer button with great anticipation.  Lights flashed, buzzers sounded, and finally the computer spit out the answer: “See Genesis 1:1.”  Let’s do that right now.  Look again at the first four words: “In the beginning God [Elohim]…”  By the way, this is the first instance of baseball in the Bible – “in the big inning.”  This is a declaration that God has always been; He’s had no beginning and He will have no end.  This is stated strongly in Deuteronomy 33:27: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  Augustine was once asked what God was doing before He created the world.  He thought for a moment and replied, “He was creating it for people who ask questions like that.”

Did you notice that Genesis 1:1 is a simple declaration that Elohim exists, and does not provide an explanation for His existence?  That Bible just assumes that He is.  Several years ago, in his unforgettable style, E.V. Hill spoke for 40 minutes at a Promise Keepers event in Chicago.  He preached on just two words: “God is.”  He repeated this phrase over and over, whispering it and shouting it and daring anyone to deny it.  Friends, God is.  He is eternal.  That reminds me of the boy who once prayed, “Dear God, please take care of my daddy and my mommy and my sister and my brother and my doggy and me.  Oh, and please take care of yourself, God.  If anything happens to you, we’re gonna be in a big mess.”  Aren’t you glad that nothing will happen to the Holy One?  He is here today.  He was here yesterday.  And He will be here tomorrow.  He was, He is, and He will be.  You can count on Him.  As Psalm 14:1 says, only those who are foolish doubt God’s existence: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

2. Creationism is Correct (Genesis 1:1b).

Because God alone is eternal; that which is created is not.  Look at the last part of Genesis 1:1: “…created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word for “create” means “to create out of nothing.”  Elohim brings design out of disorder; He created the cosmos out of chaos; He birthed beauty out of barrenness, and He continues to do the same in lives today.  Let’s look at just a few more phrases from Genesis 1:

“So God made the expanse…” (7)

“…He also made the stars.” (16)

“So God created the great creatures of the sea…” (21)

“God made the wild animals…” (25)

“God saw all that He had made and it was very good…” (31)

It is no accident that the first thing God wanted us to know about Himself is that He is the Creator.  The whole revelation of Scripture is rooted in this fact, from Genesis to the Book of Revelation.  

Psalm 95:6: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…”

Psalm 121:2: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Ecclesiastes 12:1: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth…”

Isaiah 45:9: “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker…”

Acts 17:24: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.”

Revelation 4:11: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” 

The early church viewed the doctrine of Creation as the beginning point of theology, and a bedrock biblical belief.  Its importance is summed it up at the very beginning of the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth…”   Former Atheist Lee Strobel, in his outstanding book called, “The Case For a Creator,” concludes that when he researched the central pillars of evolutionary theory they “quickly rotted away when exposed to scrutiny.”  I wish I had the time to share with you all the exciting recent developments in the world of science as scholars are discovering what the Bible has always said: The universe was made by an intelligent designer!  Students, remember this: Evolution is just a theory and many of those who have argued for it are now declaring that it doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny.  Let me briefly mention a few flurries of what is really an avalanche of compelling information.

  • DNA evidence.   Anthony Flew, who for half a century, has been a leading champion of atheism, and perhaps the most famous, has recently said that a super intelligent being is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature.  In a new video entitled, “Has Science Discovered God?” Flew states: “DNA has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved.” 
  • The anthropic principle states that the physical structure of the universe is exactly what it must be in order to support life.
  • The evidence of cosmology points out that whatever begins to exist must have a cause.
  • The evidence of consciousness.  This refers to our sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs and choices.  Even Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse candidly concedes that “no one, certainly not the Darwinian as such, seems to have any answer” to the consciousness issue.

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the three astronauts of Apollo 8 circled the dark side of the moon and headed for home.  As their tiny capsule floated through space, they gazed on planet earth.  What do you think they did?  They did not quote Einstein, Shakespeare or Darwin.  There was only one statement that could capture the magnificence of that moment.  As billions of people all around the world listened, an astronaut acknowledged Elohim as Creator as he read these words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  His fingerprints are everywhere.  The earth is marked, if you will, by a sign that declares in bold letters: Made by God.  Romans 1:20 states that the evidence for Elohim’s creative power is clearly evident:  “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  If you’re willing to look, you will see.  And because He is the Creator, He is greater than that which He has created.  That means you can trust Him because there is nothing in your life that is greater than He is.  He can solve whatever problem you have, if you will but trust Him by faith.  Hebrews 11:6: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

3. The Trinity is True (Genesis 1:26-27). 

The third application from the name Elohim is actually an allusion to the Trinity.  The “im” ending of Ehohim is a plural suffix.  This is similar to cherub becoming cherubim, and the plural of seraph being seraphim.  Here’s the cool part.  Although the name Elohim is plural, it is often treated as a singular noun.  Look at Genesis 1:26-27: “Then God [Elohim, plural] said [singular], ‘Let us [plural] make man in our [plural] image, in our [plural] likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God [Elohim, plural] created man in his [singular] own image, in the image of God [Elohim, plural] he [singular] created him; male and female he [singular] created them.”  

The Trinity makes redemption possible

While this verse alone doesn’t fully develop the doctrine of the Trinity, here we see that God is one and yet is somehow plural.  God, who is eternal in nature, has always existed in three persons.  This concept is found throughout Scripture.  At the baptism of Jesus, we see God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:16-17).  When Jesus gave the Great Commission to the church, He called on all three members of the Trinity in Matthew 28:19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Baptism is to be in the name [singular] of three persons [plural].  One of the clearest passages is found in 2 Corinthians 13:14: “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  God the Father sent the Son to save us from our sins and now the Holy Spirit has sealed our salvation.  The Trinity makes redemption possible.

Have you picked up yet that all three of our points so far are hot button issues?  The name Elohim establishes that God exists, that He is the Creator, and that He is three-in-one.  While these three truths have their detractors, and stir up considerable controversy, there’s still one more application that flows out of Elohim, and this one generates even more heat.

4. Every Person Has a Purpose (Genesis 1:26-27). 

Simply put, every person is made in the image of God and therefore has dignity, worth, and purpose.  Look again at Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  The word “created” is used three times and we’re told twice that humans are made in the image of a holy God.  The late Francis Schaeffer, the noted apologist, once said, “If I had an hour to spend with a person on an airplane who didn’t know the Lord, I would take the first 55 minutes and talk about man being created in the image of God.  And the last five minutes on the presentation of the gospel of salvation that can restore man to that original intended image.”

Today begins what has been declared “Sanctity of Human Life” week.  Each year we take some time to reflect on issues of life, marking the awful anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortion in this country.  God as Elohim leads us to the uncompromising conclusion that life is a gift given by the Creator and therefore must be protected.  I love what President George W. Bush has said about this topic: “We share a great goal, to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law…to build a culture of life, affirming that every person at every stage and season of life, is created equal in God’s image.”

Ecclesiastes 11:5: “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”  With the advent of ultrasound, we can now see pictures of the preborn and watch their development, as if there was a window into the womb.  Amazingly, Psalm 139 paints a vivid picture thousands of years before technology: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.   My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  David, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is allowed to take a peek into God’s prenatal care unit.  The “you” in verse 3 is emphatic – You created.  God is the creator and He is intimately involved with us because He made us.  It’s that simple.  His constant concern for us is simply the natural interest that a maker would have in a very special product.  He is the owner of the preborn – they belong to Him.

Randy Alcorn, in his new book called, “Why Pro-Life?” points out three stunning statistics (Multnomah Press, 2004).  

  • Abortion is America’s most frequently performed surgery on women.
  • More babies are aborted each day (3,753) than all the lives lost on 9-11.
  • And, here’s some good news.  Today, more young people than their parents oppose abortion.  A recent Gallup survey of teenagers found that 72% believe abortion is morally wrong.  

Now here’s some even better news.  Just as many evolutionists are now admitting that an Intelligent Designer created the world, so too, most honest people now admit that life begins at conception.  Just a short time ago, one of the arguments in favor of abortion was that because no one knew when life began, than it must be OK to terminate a pregnancy.  That’s changing.  Listen to what the owner of Oregon’s largest abortion clinic testified to under oath, “Of course human life begins at conception.”  An honest survey of scientific evidence will lead to a recognition of the existence of God and that life begins at conception.  Randy Alcorn writes, “It’s an indisputable scientific fact that each and every surgical abortion in America stops a beating heart.” 

Since God is the Creator of life, and life begins at conception, we’re called to be advocates for those voices that can’t be heard.  Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  Tomorrow as we remember Martin Luther King’s impact on human rights, let’s also recognize that we still have a long way to go to protect the greatest of all human rights – the right to life for the preborn.  

Because God’s first name is Elohim, He is there for us.  As such, we can trust Him with four “therefores.”

  1. He is eternal…therefore His existence is established
  2. Creationism is correct…therefore evolution is in error
  3. The Trinity is true…therefore redemption can be received
  4. Every person has a purpose…therefore the preborn must be protected 
He loves to wipe away guilt and shame

I am so grateful that Elohim continues to recreate today.  He loves to forgive.  He loves to wipe away guilt and shame.  And today, He can give you a fresh start if you will turn to Him in faith.  Claim the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?